Hampstead firm pleads for permit to pump water Residents fearful of contamination

June 16, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

About 40 Hampstead area residents and officials listened last night as Black and Decker (U.S.) Inc. made its case for a permit to pump an average of 432,000 gallons of water a day from 10 wells on the company's land on Route 30.

The goal of the project is to contain underground chemical contamination on the company's land, said Randy McAlister, a hydrogeologist hired by the company.

Several solvents used to degrease parts apparently leaked from the company's chemical storage area.

The contamination was discovered in 1985, said LaVere M. Grimes, facility manager for Black and Decker's Hampstead plant.

Contamination of water on the site now measures about 12 parts per million, said Mr. McAlister. The drinking water standard is 5 parts per billion. He said the cleanup was designed to reduce contamination to levels lower than the drinking water standard.

The company has a permit to pump 80,000 gallons of water a day for its own use at the site.

"I envision a nightmare out of this," said resident Bernadette Zgorski. "How do I have assurance that my water is safe? It's never been tested."

She also said area homeowners should have been notified of the cleanup plan.

Only owners of contiguous land were required to be notified of the permit application.

Some residents worried that the pumping would affect the level of water in their wells.

Mr. McAlister said no wells closer than 600 feet to any of the company's 10 wells should be affected by the pumping. He said there are no water-supply wells within that distance that aren't owned by Black and Decker.

County Commissioner Julia Gouge asked if the project could be started at a smaller volume of water, to see what effect the pumping has.

"We've waited this many years," she said. "Why can't we go at a slower pace" and increase the pumping later, she asked.

In the cleanup plan, called a "pump-and-treat" system, the wells are placed to change the underground flow of water and keep the contamination contained on the site, Mr. McAlister said.

The water would be cleaned and discharged into a pond and then a nearby stream.

Last night's informational public hearing was conducted at North Carroll High School by the state Water Resources Administration, which is part of the state Department of Natural Resources.

Terrance W. Clark, chief of the waters rights division of the Water Resources Administration, said it would be possible for any permit issued to include a requirement that Black and Decker replace any water supplies lost because of the project.

Written comments will be accepted until 4 p.m. June 29. For more information, call Terrance W. Clark, administration chief, at (410) 974-2456.

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